The Guatemalian-born actor and singer-songwriter Oscar Isaac is probably most recognizable as Carey Mulligan's criminal husband Standard from "Drive." It may be hard to imagine the blood-covered gangster from Nicholas Winding Refn's film as a 1960s folk musician with a cat in the Coen Brothers' upcoming "Inside Llewyn Davis." Yet when retracing Isaac's past roles, including parts in "Sucker Punch," "Robin Hood" (2010), "W.E." and rom-com "10 Years," it's easy to see how diverse he really is. Isaac's musical history, including the song he wrote and performed in "10 Years" and his long-time love of music, are what make his Dave Van Ronk-inspired role in the Coen's film even more promising. If the guy can sing, look menacing against Ryan Gosling and carry a cat through 1960s Greenwich Village, he's definitely an interesting actor to keep an eye on.
After impressing Sundance audiences with his commanding lead turn in the Grand Jury prize winner "Fruitvale Station," Michael B. Jordan is sure to endear himself to the international market at its European premiere. The actor has defined himself on the small screen by starring in "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood." On the big screen, he got to fly high in both "Chronicle" and "Red Tails," and appeared opposite Keanu Reeves in "Hard Ball." Despite an impressive CV and a solid number of years in the business, Jordan is far from a household name.That could change once "Fruitvale Station" comes out this summer and receives an expected awards push from The Weinstein Company. In Ryan Coogler's feature-length debut, he plays a twenty-something Bay Area resident who sees everything go from good to bad over the course of an increasingly problematic New Year's Eve in 2008. Octavia Spencer also co-stars. Jordan is currently filming the romantic comedy "Are We Officially Dating," starring Zac Efron, Imogen Potts and Miles Teller and he's rumored to be in final talks to play the Human Torch in the upcoming "Fantastic Four" reboot.
Vithaya Pansringarm, "Only God Forgives"
Character actor Vithaya Pansringarm hasn't been on the scene for long. In fact, his first role didn't appear in theaters until 2010. But with seven projects released since then (including a role in "The Hangover: Part II"), and four currently in post-production, it's easy to see him breaking out in a big way with the right role. As Chang in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives," a gangster believing himself to be a god and the primary antagonist to Ryan Gosling's character, it seems that this villainous role may be just the push he needed. Little has been seen of the role at this point, with much of the trailer's focus placed on Gosling and Kirsten Scott Thomas' characters, but if Refn's past characters are any indication, this is sure to be a brutal and fascinating role that'll be hard to shake once the film is over.
Actress Valeria Golino's directorial debut "Miele" should be hard to avoid at Cannes, given the sensitivity of its subject matter. Jasmine Trinca, the Italian actress best known for roles in "The Son's Room" and "The Best of Youth," will be at the center of that attention, playing an icy angel of death; an overly committed practitioner of euthanasia on the terminally ill. The film is a psychological character study of Trinca's cool idealist, and as such she dominates the film. Regardless of how the controversial film is received, it's certainly a role that should give Trinca more visibility.
Little Hermione Granger has fully embraced the Muggle world and all its contemptble aspects; stealing and pole-dancing that is. Sofia Coppola's R-rated "The Bling Ring" looks to be Emma Watson's true break away from the 11-year-long role that brought her fame. Although she's kept busy since the end of the "Harry Potter" films with parts in "My Week With Marilyn" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Watson's "Bling Ring" character may just be her Vanessa Hudgen's "Spring Breakers" equivalent -- the end of her good-girl, child actor phase. After all, stealing from celebrities homes, smoking cigarettes, and partying aren't things you'd see Miss Granger ever doing, but Watson, why not? If anyone's going to prove themselves outside of Hogwarts, it's certainly her.
[Nigel M. Smith, Erin Whitney, Cameron Sinz and Mark Lukenbill contributed to this article.]